Vodafone is making sure that deaf people don’t miss out on enhanced mobile data services by signing a deal with Mobile Commerce to allow them to access a variety of specialised services, including location-based ones.
The initiative is timely on Vodafone’s part as the Disabilities Discrimination Act, which dictates that the disabled should have equal access to services, comes into force this year.
The facility is accessible via the operator’s Vodafone Live! mobile portal and features information provided by the Royal Association for the Deaf (RAD), which is accessible through Mobile Commerce’s location system.
The services are found in the Find & Seek section within Vodafone Live!, with a designated menu for the deaf and hard of hearing. Facilities include a speech-to-text service to convert voice to data and even the ability to locate the nearest interpreter for the deaf.
Along with the specialised services, the deaf can also access a number of general location-based facilities via the WAP-based platform.
Nicky Hickman, Vodafone product manager for customers with special needs, said, “It’s easy to forget that not everyone can dial directory enquiries to obtain information relating to the nearest restaurant in their area. Location-based services open up the local community for them.”
The move by Vodafone may encourage other content providers to provide facilities that make it easier for disabled users to access information.
This article was part of Computer Weekly's enterprise mobile business channel, sponsored by Nokia
This was first published in May 2004